Venice is a crazy city, a lot like Tokyo in many way in the fact that it is utterly confusing and you will get lost no matter how much you fight it! But in this maze like city getting lost is when you really discover the true heart of this wonderful place. Along the narrow cobbled and crumbling streets where local venetian life is still as vibrant as ever, where traditions live on and you should get lost on purpose!
Often Venice can feel like a tourist bee hike, buzzing with trails of tours lead my umbrella waving lunatics snaking their way across St. Mark’s square and the grand canal. Hundreds of people crowding into tiny sections of what is a surprisingly large city. Barging, pushing and forcing their way into this tourist mecca.
Sometimes Venice can seem crass and overbearing, this classic city being ruined by the unrelenting and disrespectful crowds who just want their slice of it before they leave without a care for the real Venice. They litter, they shout, they want the token shots and experiences…but Venice is not totally lost.
Take a walk, even just 10 minutes and the heaving narrow walkways you had to squeeze through are now quiet, you can hear the laugher of children in a nearby square, their ball bouncing off the walls and their skipping rope slapping the ancient paving slabs.
The smell of home cooked Italian food, tomatoes and garlic, fill the air as the mothers of the family clatter about with their pots and pans. Or they hang out of their windows shouting to nearby family and neighbours the days gossip as they peg their washing seemingly precariously over a small and secluded section of the canal.
Dogs race around the streets, there are no cars here to knock them down, kids in their school uniforms chase after them and disappear into a dark and aged building which turned out to be a school.
Real life can seem to be hidden here, behind high walls are gardens filled with sweet smelling flowers. Inside ancient and derelict buildings that look like they haven’t seen a soul in hundreds of years. Down alley way that look like they head into nowhere and yet at the end are filled with life!
Gymnasiums, school and hospitals are in old palaces once built for nobility but now put to work for the people. If you look close enough it is there…you just have to walk passed all the guys selling selfie sticks and the hordes of the masses.
Set of walking, in any direction here and the maze will take you in with it, you will find dead ends, some that lead to tiny docking ports for someones boat, to a square where the mothers are chit chatting away, some will lead now even narrower passages and unstable canal crossings. Let your feet guide you and your soul take you for a journey…here is where Venice truly is the magical place everyone else is searching in the wrong place for!